Today we celebrate Veterans Day by honoring the brave men and women who served our country and risked their lives to guarantee our freedoms.
It’s likely your grandparents remember that the holiday originally commemorated the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month or the end of World War I—the war to end all wars.
Nearly one hundred years later, the need to reach out to our growing community of veterans is more important than ever.
And there’s much that can be done by high school students and others who want to acknowledge the sacrifices made by our military. Bottom line: simply get involved.
Student volunteers are welcome to support organizations serving veterans and/or military families or to initiate projects within their local communities.
The contribution can be as simple as taking time to meet regularly with an elderly veteran or as complex as initiating a holiday gift drive for families living on your local military base. Often the most valuable service anyone can provide is just being there and listening.
This Veterans Day, take a moment to reflect on the meaning of service. And do something!
Here are some ways high school students can help:
- Visit a wounded veteran in the hospital or at a rehabilitation center. They are often lonely and benefit greatly by the smallest amount of attention.
- Volunteer for a local “Stand Down” event for homeless veterans. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans estimates there are about 107,000 homeless vets on any given night who may benefit from these events.
- Create a school-based fundraising drive to support the Honor Flight Network or volunteer to support the program as a member of the ground crew or greeting team. Hint: jazz bands with knowledge of “swing” are great additions to the team.
- Help a veteran tell their story through a project such as the Veteran’s History Project. You can download a VHP field kit from the Library of Congress website.
- Start a fundraising drive to support any one of many college scholarship programs targeted to veteran families, such as the NMCRS Gold Star Scholarship Program or the Armed Forces Children’s Education Fund. Help raise awareness of the existence of these programs through your school’s College Career Center.
- Be a “greeter” and welcome troops either in route to or returning home from deployment.
- Start a club at your high school to adopt a platoon.
- Initiate a Create The Good project where you can help military families with running errands, household chores, repairs around the house or meal preparation.
- Organize a fundraising drive to purchase PX/BX gift certificates or calling cards for troops.
- Deliver meals or care packages to homebound veterans and their families.
- Agree to help care for or foster a pet for military personnel deployed abroad or organize a drive to find families willing to foster pets.
- Volunteer for or host a fundraiser to support Homes for Our Troops, an organization that builds specially adapted homes for severely injured veterans.
- Join with friends to send cards and letters to the troops through A Million Thanks.org or Operation Gratitude.
- Organize a drive to collect new and used DVD’s for veterans.
- Volunteer with an organization, such as Canine Companions for Independence, to provide therapy dogs to veterans.
- Raise funds for or otherwise support an organization that grants “wishes” for veterans and/or their families such as Hope for the Warriors, Hero’s Wish, or Operation Once in a Lifetime.
- Together with your family or with the support of a school- or community-based organization, adopt a military family for the holidays.
- Organize your friends to offer free babysitting services to military moms who need to run errands or spend time away from the kids.
- Set up a drop-off box for coupons and organize a coupon clipping event for mailing to military families stationed abroad.
- Organize a “no-sew blanket” team: solicit donations for materials and assemble the blankets for shipping.
- Produce newsletters for local vets and distribute them at local veterans’ hospitals or retirement homes.
- Compile a list of “freebies” for veterans and distribute it at local VFW posts or other facilities serving vets (note that the list expands on Veterans Day).
- Host a party or put on a concert at a local VA Hospital.
- Arrange to send care packages through Operation We are Here, the Any Soldier Program, Treats for the Troops, HeroBox.org, or Operation Gratitude.
- Support your local USO and volunteer to support “signature” services and events.
- Set up a drop-off site or organize a “drive” for cell phones for soldiers.
- Simply say, “Thank you.”